Friday, January 30, 2009

The Serendipity. B.E. Etrx

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Class of '99.

If anyone asks, I Did Engineering. Electronics. Further degrees await to adorn the latter half of my name, but so far its just Firstnamespacelastname, B.E. Etrx. Other Alphabets to follow Suit soon. Thats Electronics for you. Not Electrical, not IT, and certainly not Computers. Related to BJT's, FET'S and Microprocessors and the workings of the tiny microscopic little thinga-ma-jigs in your electronic items.

Our curriculum included subjects from a few varied streams, and is common for all branches in the first year. (There are a total of 4). Which is to say, we learnt a bit of Computer programming, Mechanics (not the car fixing type - The how a bridge is built and how many forces act on a point type), Biochemical Reactions (why?) and Math. Everyone needs Math. Apparently we need complex can-only-be-solved-by-scientific-calculators math, which we learnt for 2 semesters.
If you forgot to take your calculator to the exam, consider yourself failed. or KT like we say...ATKT (Allowed to keep term- can repeat the paper next semester without losing a year). Loosely interpreted as After trying keep trying or Aaj thoda, Kal thoda. For a long time, I had no idea what the official full form was.

Coming to the actual Electronics part - 6 semesters of trying to figure out which direction the current and god-darn electrons flow if opposed by battery which is connected to Voltmeter which in turn encounters a resistance and GAHH. One Semester of VLSI - Very Large scale semiconductor design ---layer by layer designing of semiconductors. What are semiconductors? Let me put it this way - Anything that's computerized or uses radio waves depends on semiconductors. The same subject introduced me to Doping. Yeah, the silicon kind. Its the same thing as regular doping, corrupting the body by unnecessary additives. Only here, your changing the behaviour of Silicon by adding impurities (doping). One semester of studying Amplifiers, Another one on wireless communication (which was BY FAR, my favorite), and a few other Gazillion subjects I cant apply in real life. Now or ever.

In short, after all these fancy sounding names, my practically applicable knowledge of said stream can be compiled into a short note, on a mini post-it, if written in Verdana, Bold, Font 16.
So, 4 years of Engineering. 8 semesters. 1460 days of hell later, I was asked by a very hopeful uncle living in Building -

"Beta, Your an Engineer no? Can you fix my fridge. The De-frost is not working"
Of course I replied with necessary and satisfactorily apologetic Wish-I-Could-help accompanied by offer to walk his dog since I couldn't perform said task. Why couldn't I do it?

a) To fix Fridge, You need Mechanic type Engineer.
b) Mumbai University doesn't believe in Practical Knowledge.
c) Had I Sought a job with an Electronics company after Graduation, I'd have been fired soon after due to lack of sufficient interest/knowledge/experience in the field.


"SunShine" said...

ha ha I am so dreaded with these subjects that I skipped reading about them after 4 years struggle with them :)
I can feel the pain my dear ; been there done the same just from Shivaji University in the same year :D

dipali said...

Sadly too true!
I liked the tiny, wee, sheepish and embarrassed font:)

Serendipity said...

Hey Sunshine - wow, YAY! I didnt know this about you, which stream? :)

Hi Dipali - hehehehe thats exactly what it was ;)

Piper .. said...

hmm didnt know you were the engineer(read brainy - read geeky!)type!! :)
I dont get it. why??? why would anyone want to study math?? GRE on the 20th. :( I`m going crazy!
we had ATKT too. I guess its a Pune Univ thing. Are you a Pune Univ graduate?
Now I`m babbling. Do you think I`ve gone mad? I might have. This GRE(read Math, albeit school level!) is sooooooooo not my thing.

Aditya said...

BE Electrical here - and proud of it! Three semesters of just electrical machines, two for power systems, one for things like Switchgear. Plus a lot of Electronics based elective subjects, I did DSP, OOP and Designing with ICs as my electives. My only KT was in Fluid Mechanics (old syllabus - the new kids don't have it. Bah.), though I did come very close way too often.

Can't say it was useless because, well, I *did* go on to work in Electronics R&D for four years and eventually am getting myself a degree in designing the electronics of airyplanes! The good thing is that when you start working after a BE, all companies assume you are more or less clueless and teach you stuff anyway.

But point b) is well taken, Mumbai univ is crap. My college has gone autonomous now to get away from ancient syllabi and horrendous paper-setting. No, it is not Victoria Jubilee college ;)

I get that too... from my parents: "You're an electrical engineer and can't fix the tubelight?!"

Well, I told you the problem is with the choke - that much is down to my common sense. But I'm an electrical ENGINEER not an ELECTRICIAN. I can't "repair" the choke!

Piper: No, KTs are there in Bombay too. Good luck for your GRE - practise, practise, practise. And essays sound easy, but write one every three days from now on so you can get into the flow. (Been there, done it, did well)

pj said...

i can totally relate to this post! it is so true.I mean 8 years of engineering is a total waste if you consider the amount of practical knowledge u get during the course.I am in my third year and trust me the last two years have been studying subjects that have been remotely related to the IT field and that so annoys me.

Sometimes i just wonder that after having studied so much if at the end of the day i cannot fix my own computer, what the heck did i do all these years????

neway nice post:)

Serendipity said...

@ Piper - Ad answered you :) and yep, the ONE reason Engg paid off is people loooking at you in a wholleeee new light. so your not a feather headed dumass type :D

@ Ad - Proud of you! I RAN as far form engg as i could as SOON as the 4 years got over :) and btw, what your doing sounds AWESOME. I did consider getting into wi-comm related fields since I doted over the subject (can i also mention scored > 70% in comm related subjects without sounding like a brag?) hehehhe but am so glad i didnt.
Although my geeky roots do make me refresh my memory by reading up about spread spectrum frequency hopping and what not everyonce in a while.

we had DSP too!!! Simple subject but whtf?! (Digital signal processing was it?)

Serendipity said...

@pj - lol u mean 4 years dont u? :)good lcuk with the last year!

Abhishek said...

To Fix defrost...pull the plug overnite... the ice shall defrost!!! I am BE ETRX too :P

Serendipity said...

My Dear F.E Lab Partner, Thank god your ruining refrigerators in the U.S and not in aamchi Mumbai :D

Just call me 'A' said...

Ohhh you're an FE. that was the best year of my four years. But so much for degrees. if someone ask me to fix their comp i'll run. :)

snow said...

Nice post.. Why do I feel like asking "So you're an Engineer?" hehe no, wait, what I wanna ask is "So what do you do now" since I've recently started reading your blog..and for some reason I feel like asking you that :)

Serendipity said...

@ A - No No Im DONE with Engg, 3 years ago. :) think B.E. was my fav. (knowing its just another yr to go)

Hi! Snow - If I Tell you, Id have to kill you. :D
i currently do NOTHIGN related to Engg. More subtle details later :)

"SunShine" said...

The very same ETRX babe :)

Mihir said...

Came here via Aditya's blog... you've got a fan! :-)

Your post certainly brought back some memories. Got my B.E. Mechanical in 2005, and was damn proud of it... after all, I knew what Coriolis acceleration was, I knew why an involute gear was superior to a cycloidal one, I knew how to model conduction of heat through fins with variable thickness, and possessed other such arcane skills which I believed were absolutely necessary for survival in today's dog-eat-dog world. Hell, I was one of the handful of mechanical engineers who actually understood how transistors (those goddam sunzabitches) worked!!! :D

That lasted about three months into my job at a major automotive company. Until one fine day, my supervisor asked me to pop the hood of a vehicle, and I couldn't! Ended up getting a tongue lashing to end all tongue lashings... but I'm glad it brought me back to earth.

But then again, I've seen even worse. Saar, why do you put a spare vehicle in the car? It unnecessarily increases cost, saar. The tank holding the metal cutting coolant is overflowing, saar? No problem! Just put a lid on it!

Abhishek said...

You just remember me as F.E Lab Partner :(... I thot we were partners till B.E ... Guesss not :(

Aditya said...

Mihir: the button is on the right hand side of the steering column near the knee :-P (or left, for you Amrikans)

S: yes, the same DSP, though back then I didn't understand it. Have come to appreciate it much more through the years. Wish we had been taught it differently.

And I scored > 70% in only three subjects through all my years. Engg Drawing - II, FE Computers - II and..... Fluid Mechanics KT paper. :D

Otherwise my 8-year aggregate is not even 60%. I *do* have 60+ in sems 4,6,7 & 8 though...

Mihir said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mihir said...

Aditya: The only car I was familiar with was the mango man's Maruti 800. The car was simplicity itself - all I had to do to open the bonnet was push a button located *on the bonnet* and viola! None of the complex rituals you have to perform on "modern cars", no sir! I didn't have to hire a Russian acrobat who had the ability to bend her back in a fancy way to find and push a tiny little button, which would half-pop the hood - after which I had to feel under it to find and release a tiny safety catch. Sheesh!

PS: there is a typo in my first post. The sentence in the last para should read, why do you put a spare tyre in the car?

Serendipity said...

@ Abhi - we were wer'ent we? Although I dont remember doing too many experiments with u...maybe cos u were fighting with me so much he he he

@ Adi - I cant thank god that we had only 2 semesters of Mech. and Fluid Mech sounds even worse. and err, wait ima start listing out 70+ subjects too showoff bleddy. :P

@ Mihir - lol! thankee. and err, Coriolis acceleration? (Greek and Latin to me) although cycloidal and involute acceleration sounds vaguely familiar. :D

@ you two - Im thoroughly enjoying this. Please to continue!!

Smita said...


We hardly ever use what we are taught

And we always end up doing things which are never taught to us ;-)

perplexed said...


it's my story EXACTLY!!!! except it was my apartment lift!! I understand the lift comes with the 8085/6 microprocessor..but god knows I know zilch about their actual working!